San Francisco nudists are filing a lawsuit against the city and county of San Francisco for violating their freedom of speech in order to prevent city leaders from passing an ordinance that would make it illegal to be naked in public places. The group's lawyer Christina DiEdoardo tells the New York Times, "The city is overstepping its authority. The act of being naked is not enough to be obscene or indecently exposed under California law."
The ordinance, introduced by city supervisor of the Castro District Scott — don't laugh — Wiener, would outlaw the exposure of butts and genitals on public transit, streets and sidewalks, but would still allow the exposure of women's breasts and full nudity in children under the age of 5. Nudity would still be permitted at the Gay Pride Parade and other events that have been approved by the city. Granted, I'm a person who doesn't want to get naked in public, but that all sounds pretty reasonable to me.
But not to the nudists! "Being naked is a birth-given freedom, not a crime," says — don't laugh — Gypsy Taub, a stay-at-home mom who also runs a nudist public access show called My Naked Truth (someone syndicate this, please.) Fellow plaintiff George Davis adds, "The city is trying to legislate against the naturalness of the naked body, and that is wrong."
Is it puritanical to say that these big naked babies just need to get over it? They argue for their freedom to wear as little as they please in public and claim that there's nothing sexually threatening about riding the BART with their pants off, but what if you're a fellow passenger on that car? What about your freedom to ride the train without having a stranger's naked dick in your face? And is it too much to ask that nudists confine their acts of exhibitionism to the spaces and times that they're with other willing participants?
Of course, those points are the same ones made by our nation's more subtle homophobes. You know, the whole "I don't care what you do as long as you do it in private" and "I just don't want to have to see it" arguments. It would be easy for nudists to borrow the arguments of the LGBTQ communities and rebute with an "If you don't like it, don't look" or a call to respect different lifestyle choices. There is, however, a major difference between this and the fight for equal LGBTQ rights. No one has ever been physical hurt by seeing two women hold hands. The sight of two men kissing does not effect anyone else's autonomy or right to make choices. Countless people, on the other hand, have been flashed, groped or sexually assaulted in public spaces. Being forced to stand pressed up against a naked person on a crowded bus is a legitimate threat to your physical and emotional well-being. A blanket allowance for public displays of nudity, while protecting the rights of some, takes away the right of many.